Number 1: Ben Simmons
The Philadelphia 76ers are primed to compete for a title and the addition of James Harden could be the move that pushes them over the top. To snag him they’ll have to part with the supremely talented Ben Simmons.
Simmons is an elite player in every sense. He is a fantastic passer, defender, and rebounder. His scoring, while much maligned for his lack of a perimeter shot, remains as efficient as it is deadly.
The perceived weakness, not taking shots from outside the restricted area, is in many ways a strength. Great players take shots they can hit and that’s exactly what Simmons does.
What places Simmons atop this list is that he is a player who possesses otherworldly potential and is currently a very good player. The worst-case scenario for him is he remains an All-NBA quality player but he could very well become one of the five best players in the world.
The skillset that Simmons wields has never been fully unleashed because he has never had a team that fits unique talents. Due to his lack of a jump-shot, the best way to get the most out of Simmons is to surround him with shooting and let him dissect a defense through his passing and rampaging drives to the rim.
The current player that resembles Simmons the most is none other than Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both wield their size and athleticism to get to the rim and finish but can anchor a defense and distribute like the best playmakers in the sport.
Every team in the league wants Giannis and as such, every team should want Simmons. The best young prospect available for James Harden remains Simmons and the Rockets remain a perfect landing spot.
The team has shooters at every position which fits Simmons perfectly and the Rockets lack a true All-NBA quality defender which Simmons is. The two can get the best out of each other and will usher in a new era for the Rockets.
The Rockets would be happy to land any of these players but Simmons remains the ultimate prize. A post-James Harden world doesn’t have to be abysmal for the Rockets but it all depends on the players that they receive in return.